On Sunday, May 5, I had the chance to celebrate the third anniversary of the blog with some friends, family, and followers that I was able to put faces to. It was a great day, and I'm so grateful for all the people who came out to say hi and show their support, as well as all the amazing people who helped make the event a success.
We were hosted by Cao Bakery in their flagship location on Miami Beach. If you grew up in South Florida, you know the iconic Vicky Bakery, and this is a branch of Vicky Bakery. They have some of your classic favorites like pastelitos and croquetas, but they are also bringing new items to the table (no joke, they bring it out to you!). We are so grateful for their hospitality and for the beautiful location and tasty bites they gave us to sample.
The first 15 guests to arrive received goody bags, filled with all kinds of awesome stuff. We had items from Johnson's Baby, Neutrogena, Clean & Clear, and Aveeno. There were discount cards for a photo session with me, and discount cards for an organizing session with Jessica of Thoughtfully Organized. There were full sized Mary Kay products thanks to Mari Grenillo, a travel-sized bottle of Erase makeup remover from Selah Skin Studio, and mini liquor bottles thanks to my friend Mari of Royal Liquors.
Our guests enjoyed some bubbly and rose from Obvious Wines, courtesy of my incredible husband and his company, Freehold Real Estate. Parents could also have some of the great sitters from College Nannies Sitters and Tutors watch their kids so they could enjoy some time socializing and grabbing a bite! My beautiful friend Sasha De Almagro was snapping away throughout the entire event to capture all these awesome photos for me to share with you!
We also had some great prizes to raffle off, and I couldn't have done that without the generosity of so many of my favorite brands!
You definitely want to check them out!
I am eternally grateful to all of you for your continued support and for trusting in my recommendations and what I share with you. YOU are the reason I continue to do this. I couldn't do it without the support of my family and friends, and I hope that I can continue making you proud for many years to come!
Last year Mind Body Social launched Mother’s May Wellness Series presented by Publix to empower and celebrate moms in the community.
Thanks to its success, and continued support by Publix as presenting sponsor, this year they are bringing the series to ten different areas in South Florida: Palm Beach Gardens, Boca Raton, Ft. Lauderdale, Aventura, Miami Beach, Brickell, Coral Gables, Doral, West Kendall and Pinecrest.
The series consists of one weekly FREE event for moms in each one of the areas during the entire month of May, at local public parks and community centers.
Week 1- Pilates & Nutrition
Week 2- Prenatal Yoga
Week 3- Mommy and Me Zumba
Week 4- Meditation
Week 5- Workouts & Snacks
All participant instructors are moms too!! Most are from local studios or independent practices.
Tonight I had the chance to attend one of their first events in Pinecrest, and I have to say that it was a really awesome event! I encourage you to take a little time for yourself this month, look up an event near you, and make the effort to make it out. Grab another mom - I invited my sister-in-law along - and have a great time together while doing something great for yourself!
Head to Mind Body Social's Events Page to find an event near you!
I often get asked how I do everything that I do, and the truth is that while it may seem like I do a lot, I have developed some pretty decent time management skills in the last few years. I like to produce, but I also like to be able to enjoy myself and my family. I have also learned that there are things I should put importance on, and there are others that I’m not really all that concerned about. Here are some of the things that I don’t do as a mother that allow me to seem like I “do it all.”
1. I don't do it all.
Whether it’s my husband, my parents, my in-laws, a babysitter, or housekeeper, I use the resources that are available to me so that I don’t get overwhelmed. It’s really easy to get caught up in saying, “I have to be the one to keep my house perfectly clean,” and “I have to be with the kids 24/7.” But in coming to the realization that I CANNOT physically do it all, I learned to ask for help. Sometimes that means it’s asking my husband to take care of dinner, or asking our parents to watch the kids so that I can go get some errands done.
2. I don't stress over what my kids eat.
I don’t really stress over what my kids eat. In the first year of life with both of my kids, I stressed over them consuming enough milk and gaining enough weight. But past that, I stopped stressing. Suer, I try to limit sugar, and I don’t give them sugary drinks at home, and I definitely try to push the healthier stuff, but I don’t stress it if they do or don’t have something. Some days that means that they snack and graze all day; other days that means that they have three really hearty well-balanced meals. And still other days, that looks like the drive-through of Pollo Tropical or some frozen meals heated up in the oven. I’ve come to understand the kids go through phases, and that not every day is going to be full of perfectly balanced nutritious meals. If Caleb wants microwaveable macaroni and cheese, then guess what? That’s what’s for dinner. If Chloe tosses her lunch on the floor and feeds it to the dog, then she might just be getting a pouch for lunch. And again, I’m not going to stress it. One of our friends, whose mom has three kids told us one time, “By the time they turn 18, they’ll have eaten a well-balanced diet.” So Eddie and I try to remember that whenever the kids are giving us a hard time over what we’re feeding them. At the end of the day, they’re just like us, and some days they might just not be hungry. Other days, they may really just want a certain kind of food, and that’s OK, too! They’re allowed to have likes and dislikes just like we do.
3. I don’t buy into the more is more mentality.
There are a lot of sources out there telling us that we need ALL THE THINGS for our kids. More toys, more clothes, more gadgets, more STUFF. But I have become a big believer in the fact that kids don’t need as many things as we think they do. For the most part, they’re happy with a couple of toys that they really like. The best thing for them is going outside, playing, using their imaginations, and being kids. I will not be on the hunt for the most popular toy this Christmas, because I know that is not what is going to make my kid happy. One perfect example was for Caleb’s birthday this year. We decided that since we were surprising him with the Disney Cruise, and his birthday is so close to Christmas, that we were going to forgo buying him a gift. The day of his birthday, I woke up with a little guilt that he had nothing to open. But you know what? He never asked for anything except for the waiters to sing him Happy Birthday. And the day we got off the ship, he THANKED us for taking him on the cruise.
4. I don’t let my coffee get cold.
I also get dressed every morning, and do my hair when I need to. I take care of myself, because I need to be able to take care of them. If that means that they are strapped into the high chair or watching TV for an extra five minutes in the morning so I can drink my coffee hot, then so be it. But I make the time in the morning to do that one thing for myself.
5. I don’t spend all day entertaining my kids.
I sit on the floor and play with Chloe for a little bit each day - time I dedicate just to her. Or I spend some time with Caleb outside or coloring or reading. But I’m a huge proponent of independent play. I want my kids to be able to entertain themselves and each other. They have a pretty free range of the main area of the house, and there are toys for them to play with, so there’s no reason why they should need to be entertained constantly. I’ve always got an eye or ear on them, but if I’m making dinner, or replying to e-mails, or folding laundry, you can bet that they are playing independently.
6. I don’t feel guilty about what I do or don’t do.
No explanation needed, no guilt. Sometimes I’ll have twinges of guilt over something, but for the most part, I don’t feel guilty about any of the above.
So there you go. Next time you find yourself wanting to ask, "How does she do it all?" Know that I really, truly don't. There are a lot of things I don't do, and that is what gives me the ability to do what I want to do. And always always always remember that social media can be deceiving! Anyone who looks like they do it all more than likely has a team/village/small army helping them appear that way!
I know I promised you guys this post almost 2 months ago already, but I finally got around to putting it in writing, and it was a lot more involved than I thought it would be! Our time on the Disney Magic for the Marvel Day at Sea sailing was amazing. These cruises bring a magic that only Disney can provide. We were on the ship for Caleb‘s birthday and the way that he was treated and made to feel really special was something that I would not trade for the entire world.
We had actually been on a Disney cruise a couple years back. Before Caleb turned one, we did a special sailing for New Year’s, but it was very short. It was a three night sailing and we only stopped at Castaway Cay. We had a great time, but we definitely felt like a longer amount of time was necessary to truly enjoy being on the Disney cruise - especially when it came to seeing characters. So when we saw this opportunity for a Marvel sailing, we jumped at the chance, since Caleb has an obsession with all things Marvel.
I’m going to break this up into two posts: the cruise and ship itself, and the Marvel Day At Sea - as I think that will be the easiest for you to follow. There are certain things that are given when it comes to cruising: your food is all included, entertainment is included, and there are different ports of call. As far as schedules go, getting information, and logistics, it works just like any other cruise ship. For questions on what to pack, head over to my post on packing for a Disney Cruise.
We were on the Disney Magic, which is the oldest and smallest of their fleet. The ship is easy to navigate, state rooms are all in one area and not completely spread apart, and it’s not too far to go from your state room to the dining room, or from the dining room to the theater. There is also plenty to do on the ship - they have an amazing kids club (Oceaneer Club) and that could take a post all on its own. It is very secure, and provides tons of opportunities for kids to go in either on their own or accompanied by their parents. I didn’t get to use the fitness center on the ship, but my husband did and said it was great. The adults only section of the ship is amazing and so relaxing from what I can tell (since I only walked through there). There are bars and areas to grab a drink all over the ship, and there is plenty of seating throughout as well. There are two main pool areas, a splash pad for little ones who are still in diapers, a waterslide, and the adults only pool. There are theaters, a nightclub, a several areas for dancing and people watching in the evenings.
The one thing that really stuck out to us the first time we cruised with Disney was how conducive the staterooms were to families. First of all, they have actual BATHTUBS. Not teeny tiny showers you’re trying to squeeze into or bathing your kids and struggling to not drop them. The bathrooms are also split up - one door for the toilet and a sink, and another for the bathtub and a sink. Two sinks! Definitely useful fo four people getting ready at the same time. Staterooms have plenty of storage - drawers, cabinets, and shelves, so you can put everyone’s things away. The bed is also raised high enough where you can store your luggage AND strollers underneath! You can request a pack n play for babies to sleep in (which we did), and they will also bring you a diaper genie.
One of the things I enjoyed on the ship was going to the movies. In the Walt Disney theater, you can watch movies that are still out in theaters. So while we were on the ship, we were able to watch Mary Poppins returns, which I hadn’t had the opportunity to watch yet.
As far as entertainment in the evenings, we only made it to two of the shows. Since my kids go to sleep relatively early, and are pretty miserable if they don’t get to sleep, I did not want to keep them up five nights and suffer the consequences. So we watched two of the shows in the theater, and we watched another on the closed circuit TV in our state room while the kids were asleep. On Pirate Night (in lieu of a formal night, they do Pirate Night, which is so nice to not have to dress up in formalwear with kids), they have an awesome deck party with a show with Mickey and Minnie and fireworks! The last night Caleb stayed up and Chloe went to the nursery - more on both of those later.
There are also characters available throughout the ship at different times of the day. Sometimes you need to make a line for them, other times they are dancing and interacting with passengers. There are also special character meet and greets that you book ahead of time online. They don’t cost extra, but they only allow a certain number of people to take part and it usually includes more than one character. We did this for the Marvel Day at Sea. But if you don’t get a coveted spot, show up early and ask if there is any way you can get in. We did this with Chloe and the princesses, and they asked us to wait a few minutes. Once the line went down completely, they let us in, and Chloe got to meet Cinderella, Bella, and Tiana.
Disney’s private island is nothing short of perfect. Even though it was January and the water was a little cold for our taste, we got down and enjoyed the beach and the island. Food is provided at two locations, there is a separate 21+ section on the island, and plenty of lounge chairs throughout. There is a splash pad for kids, and there is an outpost of the Oceaneer Club, called Scuttle’s Cove where you can drop off your kids and they will have activities for them. There are bars throughout the island as well. A couple of important notes. You get towels to use as you disembark from the ship. There is a shuttle, just like in the parking lot at Disney World. You can take the shuttle or you can walk. When you get off the shuttle at the beach, there are strollers, wagons, and wheelchairs available, free of charge, that will get you through the sand. We actually grabbed strollers for the kids (they were brand new BOB strollers), and a wagon for all of our stuff. We ended up grabbing a spot near the front part of the island, close to the food. But we did take a walk and explore a little more of the island, and it was relaxed throughout. We even got to see a wedding taking place!
The Oceaneer Club has some great activities for kids. At the beginning of the cruise, if you register your child for the Oceaneer Club, they will receive a Magic Band. This gives the cast members working in the Club your child’s location. They can only be signed out by adults who are on a pre-approved list, and the adults have to give a “secret word” that you designate when you register them. The Oceaneer Club is spread into two areas: the Club and the Lab. There are activities designated as “Open House,” which means you can go in with your child to one of the areas. The other area is secured and children who are not with an adult are kept in the secure side.
We left Chloe in the nursery one evening and they were great, as well. They get a similar Magic Band, but it is placed on their ankles. They have plenty of staff in the nursery and it is a welcoming space. They are clearly experienced because they whisked Chloe away from me and didn’t delay the goodbye, and she was perfectly fine. She actually fell asleep shortly after we left and when we picked her up, she was still asleep. (Tiny note: the nursery does have an additional cost, while the Oceaneer Club does not.)
Food & Dining
There are plenty of places to eat and grab a bite on the ship. Lumiere’s is open for breakfast and lunch if you would like to sit down to eat, and Cabanas is the buffet that is open for breakfast and lunch (and dinner, too, if I’m not mistaken!). There are also spots near the pool where you can grab a bite if the buffet isn’t open and you’re hungry.
Dinner is set up in such a way where you rotate to the different restaurants but your waitstaff follows you from one restaurant to the next, so every night you have the same waitstaff. This means they learn your likes and your dislikes, but you get to see a new environment. In the case of the Magic there are three main dining rooms: Animator’s Palate, Rapunzel’s Table, and Lumiere’s. The food was great - we thoroughly enjoyed everything and there was a lot of variety available for everyone in our party - from healthy options to rich, decadent ones. If there were any special requests, those were taken care of for us with ease, as well. If you really need something, and can’t find it, ask! Especially when it comes to food allergies or something for the kids, Disney knows how to get it done right!
I would pay over and over and over again for Disney’s service. We had exceptional service throughout - from our waitstaff to our cabin steward. Caleb befriended one of the entertainers at dinner one day, and we spotted him at a show the next night. After we went over and talked to him for a few minutes, and he found out it was Caleb’s birthday, he had a backpack full of goodies delivered to our stateroom for Caleb. It was such a nice touch and one that Caleb still talks about (he uses the backpack for school every day).
All in all, I’d say a Disney cruise is totally worth taking, and an experience the whole family will love. As a matter of fact, I might go check out next year’s sailings right now.
P.S. If you plan on doing a lot of character photo opps, get the photo package. It's not cheap, but we ended up with over 75 photos on a USB. It would have cost us way more to get all the photos we would have wanted to get and we didn't have to stress over getting a good photo ourselves.
Disclaimer: I won the Doona in a giveaway. All opinions, however, are my own!
A little over a year ago, I posted about how excited I was to use certain products. Well, after nearly a year of use, I can certainly say that the Doona was worth the hype. It has been the single most useful item we have had for Chloe.
If you’re not familiar with the Doona, it is a car seat that converts to a stroller. Instead of a travel system where you pop the infant seat into a stroller with an attachment, this is all one piece. The handle bar moves and extends, wheels pop out of the bottom part of the car seat, and it becomes a very handy stroller.
It’s safe, it’s convenient, it saves precious real estate in your trunk. Need I say more? Chloe just turned one and we are still using it. We actually JUST got a new lightweight stroller for her because I feel like she would enjoy sitting up more. But really, we could keep using it for a while and she would still be fine. As a matter of fact, the height limit is 32” and the weight limit is 35 lbs. Chloe will outgrow it lengthwise before she does weight-wise (she is just over 29 inches and 19 pounds), but she still has a couple of inches before that happens.
Let’s talk pros and cons.
Price: The Doona rings in at $500.00. I know many would list this as a con, but I think it is well worth the price tag. Odds are, if you are considering this, you’re considering a travel system that clocks in at just as much or double this. Since we haven’t used anything else for Chloe up until now, I can tell you that the investment is well worth it.
Overall, way more pros than cons - and I can tell you that when I was in a rush at morning drop-off with Caleb, it was nice to just release the seat and go. Not having to take the extra step of opening the trunk was so helpful. Caleb only uses a stroller when we are doing something like Disney or something with really heavy walking, which is why this worked so well for us (we ended up just taking two strollers with us when we went to places like that, and it worked for us).
Clearly, this is a product I love. I will continue to recommend this product, and I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to use it!
Questions? Ask away in the comments below!